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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
April 2018
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Golden Pages
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Opinion
by U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
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Protecting Senior Homeowners and Consumers

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

Throughout my career in public service, what has driven me every day has been my dedication to protecting and safeguarding the rights of Nevada families, children, and seniors. Growing up in a very close knit family, I was raised as much by grandparents as I was by my parents. Spending time with my grandparents I saw how often our elders are targeted by individuals and corporations who see their vulnerabilities and try to take advantage of them.

As Nevada Attorney General, I saw the devastating effects of predatory behavior by unchecked mortgage companies, big banks, payday lenders and credit card companies. Many elderly Nevadans in particular were lured into taking out subprime loans or agreeing to misleading reverse mortgages before the 2008 financial crisis. During my time as Attorney General, I combatted elder fraud and abuse by suing 26 big banks that were unfairly targeting Nevadans. I also sponsored a bill in the Nevada Legislature creating the Senior Protection Unit to provide the Attorney General’s office the necessary resources to investigate senior abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

In the past six years, Congress has enacted numerous rules to protect seniors across the country from exploitation and fraud. Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act after the financial crisis to protect consumers in Nevada, and across our country. It also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has played a crucial role in supporting the efforts of state attorneys general in the fight to bring justice to victims of predatory financial practices. The CFPB has resolved the cases of 14,600 Nevadans and returned $12 billion to 29 million consumers across the country who were taken advantage of by companies like Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

During my time in the United States Senate, I have continued my fight to protect seniors from discrimination and fraud through strong oversight. That is why I cosponsored the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, which expands data collection and information sharing among federal, state, and local authorities to better prevent and respond to all forms of elder abuse. The bill also establishes an Elder Justice Coordinator at the CFPB. I have been a staunch opponent of the Administration’s effort to weaken the CFPB by slashing its funding, undermining its enforcement powers and giving companies that engage in fraud or abuse a free pass.

My local offices are also committed to making sure seniors receive the help they need to combat unfair financial practices. Recently, my Las Vegas office was able to help one Nevada resident receive a $13,000 loss mitigation check from the CFPB. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, many Nevada seniors suffered job loss and foreclosures, and are still recovering to this day. We should not be weakening protections that were put in place after the 2008 crisis to protect all Americans from discrimination and predatory lending.

Seniors could account for nearly one-third of Nevada’s population by 2030. We need to be especially diligent in ensuring that they are protected as they enjoy their golden years.